March 18, 2015

Healthy Recipe: Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

Remember how one of my New Year’s resolutions was to have people over at my home at least once a week? I’m not doing well with my other resolutions but that one is going strong. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to host people so often was that I hoped it would make me less uptight and more go-with-the-flow, rather than stressing out about every little detail. Well, you can’t get much more relaxed and go-with-the-flow than everyone sitting around a blanket on the floor in my new den!

St. Patrick's Day House Party
Cheers! May there be many more toasts and many more get-togethers in this new house 🙂

Even though I just closed on my house yesterday morning and have zero furniture in there, I still had a little St. Patrick’s Day get together there yesterday evening, and it was a lot of fun. I got to show my friends the house I’ve been talking about for weeks, get their input on layout and decor (and thank you commenters for your input yesterday – keep it coming!), and also just relax and toast beers/ciders plus eat lots of delicious food.

…which brings me to the healthy take on shepherd’s pie I decided to make in honor of the holiday. I’ve never made shepherd’s pie before (though I’ve enjoyed it plenty!), and I ended up combining flavors and instructions from a bunch of different recipes in order to get to this healthy version. I swapped out lean ground turkey for ground beef, adding extra spices to make up for the loss of flavor from the fat. I also went with a mixture of half-cauliflower and half-potatoes on top, plus a light Irish cheddar rather than the full fat kind.

Healthy Turkey Shepherd's Pie, Served with Spiced Cabbage
Shown here served with spiced cabbage.

I baked this casserole in a square pan and divided it into nine servings, tic-tac-toe style, and the serving size was a little smaller than I would have liked. However, it was still pretty filling when served alongside some spiced cabbage I had tossed into a crockpot. Meanwhile tonight, I had the two leftover servings for dinner, and it was perfectly delicious! Great comfort food but not heavy on the stomach. St. Patrick’s Day may be over for this year, but I’ll definitely be making this healthy take on shepherd’s pie again soon.

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Healthy Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Comfort food that's also good for you and guilt-free!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Cuisine Irish
Servings 9 servings


  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 12 oz hard cider (or substitute 6 oz chicken broth plus 6 oz apple cider)
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or substitute 2 tbsp fresh minced garlic)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 oz light Irish cheddar cheese


  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put a large pot of water on to boil, then roughly chop the russet potatoes. When you've finished chopping, add them to the pot (yes, even if the water isn't yet boiling) and cover.
  • While the potatoes begin to boil, roughly chop the florets off a head of cauliflower. Place them in a colander and then submerge the colander into the potato pot so that you can cook both the cauliflower and the potatoes at once, but remove them at different times since the cauliflower takes longer to cook. (Alternately, you can cook the cauliflower in a different pot.) Cook both until tender - approximately 15 minutes for the potatoes and 20 minutes for the cauliflower - then drain.
  • While your potato/cauliflower pot boils, begin heating a non-stick saute pan while dicing 1/2 onion. Add that to the pan and toss every few minutes until browned, then remove to the casserole dish.
  • Add 1 pound of lean ground turkey to the empty saute pan, and season with salt, pepper, garlic, and 1 tbsp ground rosemary. Use a spoon to periodically break up the turkey as it browns, so that you get a fine mash instead of large chunks.
  • While the turkey browns, dice 1 large carrot and 2 stalks celery, adding them to the pot as you go. Add the onions back to the pot, and then add 1/2 cup plain tomato sauce. Stir to incorporate, and then add one 12 oz bottle of your favorite cider - I used Woodchuck Amber, to add a little sweetness but not too much. Add about 1/2 cup of the starchy potato water (pouring it without measuring is fine), then cook for about 15 minutes to reduce down.
  • Once the cauliflower and potatoes are each tender, drain and then put them back in the pot. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic, then mash them together with a potato masher. You may also need to use a spoon to cycle through and be sure you thoroughly mash any bits of cauliflower, especially if you weren't diligent about using the florets only and discarding the stems.
  • Once the saute an has reduced down to a thick meat sauce, pour into a 9x9 square casserole dish. Use a spoon to smooth out the layer, then top with the cauliflower/potatoes. Finally, generously grate some low-fat Irish cheddar on top, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is gooey and bubbly.
  • Let cool (so it doesn't burn your mouth!), then cut into squares and serve.


Although this is a comfort food casserole, it still packs a ton of vitamins A and C, plus a decent amount of protein. It's also surprisingly low-fat given how creamy and delicious it tastes!
Nutrition Stats Healthy Shepherd's Pie

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